By Allison Collins
BAINBRIDGE – About 50 family, friends and colleagues of the late Hugh Kearney, former Bainbridge town supervisor, gathered Friday to see the bridge leading into the village named in his honor.
The recognition, two years in the making, was spearheaded by Bainbridge Town Supervisor Dolores Nabinger and facilitated by Assemblyman Clifford Crouch, R – Bainbridge, and New York State Sen. Fred Akshar, R – Afton, both of whom attended Friday’s unveiling.
Holding a bouquet of red roses she would later toss from the side of the Hugh A. Kearney Memorial Bridge into the Susquehanna, Joyce Kearney, 86, called the occasion “amazing.”
Nancy Casale, of Kingston, the youngest of the Kearneys three daughters, said the whole family felt the dedication was deserved.
“This is such an honor for a very honorable man,” she said. “It feels so right, because he really was devoted to this town and his family and just a very decent human being.”
Casale, 59, added: “We could never have expected this and we couldn’t be more pleased for him and for the family.” She noted learning of the recognition from her mother “about two months ago.”
Nabinger said, after initially bringing the idea to the town board and later the assemblyman and senator, she was pleased to see the dedication come to fruition.
“I’m thrilled,” she said. “This is great and there’s a great turnout. He was very respected on all levels.”
Nabinger credited Kearney with encouraging her to enter local politics.
“He was definitely a mentor to me,” she said.
Crouch, a colleague of Kearney’s for years, described him as a “solid Bainbridge citizen.”
“I had the pleasure of knowing and working with him,” Crouch said, recalling how Kearney replaced his own father as town supervisor.
“He always impressed me with his integrity, vision and the necessity to do the right thing, and he always did it his own way,” Crouch added. “I was very proud to know him, to work with him and to call him a friend. He’s done some great things for Bainbridge, for the community and for the county just by being there.”
“I am very happy to be able to dedicate this bridge in his memory,” Crouch continued in a written statement. “I hope it serves as a reminder of all the wonderful things he did for the community as well as an inspiration for generations to come. May we forever remember Hugh, his hard work, dedication and accomplishments.”
Kearney served as town supervisor for 18 years and, before that, as a town councilman. He was also a longtime member of the Bainbridge Fire Department, serving as its secretary-treasurer for 18 years. He was a member of the Bainbridge School Board for five years, two of which he spent as president; a church treasurer for seven years; and a board member of the Chenango County IDA.